COVID-19 vaccination required for Cuesta College students, employees, visitors

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Posted at 6:20 PM, Aug 26, 2021

In less than two months, Cuesta College will not only require vaccinations for students and employees but visitors as well.

In a 5 to 1 vote, the Board of Trustees approved the vaccine solution on Wednesday night.

The new vaccine requirement will go into place on October 15.

Students, employees, and visitors will have to get the shot or have a negative test before walking on campus.

School has been in session for a little more than a week at Cuesta College and getting the vaccine before classes returned was top of mind for sophomore Marissa Belanger.

"I mean, like you got to come to school and I figured you're going to have to do it anyways," Belanger said.

She and her fellow classmates will now be required to get a COVID-19 vaccine by mid-October.

"I'm glad that they're taking it seriously and like taking action on it because like some people just don't care," Belanger said.

On Wednesday night, the Board of Trustees voted that the more than 24,000 students, employees, and community members across their two campuses will have to get vaccinated with a deadline less than two months away.

The move also applies to visitors.

"Our campus visitors will have the option of either showing proof of vaccine or a test within 72 hours," said Dr. Jill Stearns, Cuesta College Superintendent/President.

Dr. Stearns says they're looking for a technology solution to help with enforcement.

"We are reviewing a number of apps that have been developed for higher education that will assist in that," Dr. Stearns added.

They're also expanding on-campus testing with a 24 to 48-hour turn-around to have rapid testing.

"To really facilitate ease for those students who aren't fully back on campus but need to come to the bookstore or come to the library and need a quick test for clearance," she said.

"I do think it's going to stop spreading and getting people sick," said freshman Ella Haungs.

All of the students we spoke with at Cuesta College said they already got the vaccine but they know other students won't want to be forced into getting the shot.

"I know that some people are on the fence about the vaccine because there really isn't much information about what it does to your body or how it reacts to certain people," Belanger said.

California community colleges do not require proof of immunization for enrollment.

Cuesta College joins CSU, UC, and dozens of other community colleges requiring the COVID-19 vaccine.

But at Allan Hancock College and universities like Cal Poly, the requirement does not apply to visitors.

Students, employees, and visitors are able to opt out of the vaccine at Cuesta College but opting out of testing is not an option. Weekly testing will be required for those who are unvaccinated.

Since March of 2021, the athletics teams throughout California have been required to either show proof of vaccine or undergo weekly testing. Testing within 72 hours of competition has also been in play for some time.

This week, Cuesta College launched a vaccine incentive program.

The superintendent says so far, more than 1,400 students have shown their proof of vaccination. In return, they received a $250 gift card.